4 Stages of Weight Loss Every Dieter Will Go Through

Plus, the one bonus stage that is experienced by far fewer dieters.

January 6, 2017
measuring weight loss

Adapted from Brain-Powered Weight Loss 

Losing weight is a journey mined with emotions that will, at times, challenge your weight loss state of mind. There are four stages of weight loss that people often go through on their way to "Healthy Obsession." You may experience some of them. You may experience all of them.

More: 20 Quick Coping Responses to High-Risk Diet Situations

I believe that knowledge is power, and knowing they exist will help you recognize them for what they really are—just phases. They will pass! You will float in and out of them. Here are the four stages plus a fifth that is experienced by far fewer.

You may find yourself moving in and out of these stages many times. This is normal. Start expecting to fluctuate between moments of motivation and resolve, and moments of frustration and times where you'll consider giving up your new lifestyle. Crossing these hurdles means you'll be on course to Healthy Obsession, the winner's circle. You'll know you're there when you've conquered the goal of loving your new lifestyle—when you think the way healthy active people do.

More: 6 Ways to Be More Assertive in Your Diet

The primary reason so many people go through some or all of these stages is because, when it comes to losing weight, the body isn't always in tune with your mind. Virtually all people who struggle with weight loss are up against a heavy resistance that few of us have ever even heard about before. 

honeymoon weight loss
The Honeymoon

This is your kickoff motivating phase. ("Wow! Six pounds in just 2 weeks!") It is so called because you want it to last forever. You're excited, maybe even exhilarated, and ready to make changes. Studies show that people who spend the most time in this stage produce better weight loss and weight control over time.

More: 4 Ways to Jump-Start Your New Diet

Frustration weight loss

The dreaded plateau starts to set in ("I didn't lose a thing for 2 weeks and then the scale went up!"). You begin to recognize that planning for weight-loss success can be time-consuming and, at times, even tedious. You start feeling the strain. This is when you'll need to use the skills you'll learn in this book to accept it and move forward.

More: 7 Reasons You're Not Losing Weight

acceptance weight loss
Tentative Acceptance

This stage happens when trying to lose weight starts to feel like a tentative reality: You see yourself getting there, but you realize it's going to take time and effort.

More: Little-Known Tips For Losing Weight & Keeping It Off

ambivalence weight loss

A stage of Ambivalence usually enters months down the road when you start thinking, "Holy crap, this weight-management thing is going to be going on forever." Motivation starts to slip.

More: 4 'New' Ways to Motivate Weight Loss

future weight loss
Fear of the Future

Some people who see themselves losing a significant amount of weight will be confronted with a fifth stage of weight loss: Fear of the Future. This is when they realize they are presenting the world with a new persona. ("Will I still be me and will people like what they see?") This usually happens to people who start out obese and have a significant amount of weight to lose.

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